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Killzone: Shadow Fall REVIEW – A Solid Launch Effort

by Joey Davidson | November 19, 2013November 19, 2013 12:00 pm PDT

The PlayStation 4 has arrived. Greatness no longer “awaits.” It’s here, and Killzone: Shadow Fall is one of the big guns Sony is hanging its collective hat on.

This futuristic shooter promised a glorious campaign, exceptional locales and next-gen graphics. Some of those points were delivered, though each comes with a slight stumble.

This is still one of the best multiplayer exclusive efforts in the PlayStation brand, and it gets top marks for that.

Is this launch title worth your time and money?

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An Above Middling Campaign

Whether or not you’ve ever played a Killzone game before, the storyline and campaign mode in Shadow Fall is easy enough to get into. Don’t let your potential lack of history with this franchise push you out.

It’s easy. There’s a wall that separates long entrenched races. You play a high level operative who floats in between sides in order to further the glory of your civilization. The game weaves in and out of this simplistic setup in a way that sort of provides enough context for the shoot-shooting that you’ll do at a constant clip.

Yep, Killzone is about shooting. Were it not for the awesome OWL droid that follows you around for most of the campaign, it would be about tiresome shooting.

Guerilla Games was smart enough to give you a mechanized accomplice. Point him towards a group of enemies, set phasers to kill and watch that little machine destroy hopes and dreams. Honestly, the OWL made otherwise boring situations fun. Instead of just taking cover and shooting at heads that randomly popped up, the OWL let me flank, hack and time my encounters.

Its presence was a pleasant little surprise.

My biggest gripe with Killzone: Shadow Fall’s campaign came from its awkward level design and randomly spiking difficulty. There were moments when I felt lost, and the little waypoints that marked my destination rarely provided help. Then, when I knew where I was going, I’d sometimes be met with absurdly difficult sections.

There’s a turret bit in chapter seven that I’m thinking of specifically. Even on normal, this part was obnoxious thanks to seemingly random enemy placement, type and behavior. I nearly gave up on the game there and then.

What results in the multiple hours you’ll work through Killzone: Shadow Fall is a simply ho-hum storyline. It’s decent enough, with its twists and turns registering on the “saw-that-coming-radar” from miles out. It’s not the worst shooter I’ve ever played, and it serves as a solid showcase of what’s to come from the PlayStation 4.

Multiplayer Matters

What’s going to keep Killzone relevant a few months after launch is its multiplayer arm. This franchise has almost always had a big penchant for multiplayer, and Shadow Fall continues that tradition.

Rocking out on a class-based, futuristic battlefield is actually a quality waste of time. You’ll enjoy the game types here, though none of them really ring true as an absolute must play.

As has become the standard with competitive shooters these days, the glory comes in unlocking new gear for your custom loadout. You’ll spend a lot of time tweaking each class based on your playstyle, and that’s definitely the genuine value here.

The maps are all solid, and the game looks best during multiplayer play. Everything is smoother and faster. My only real complaint comes from the motion blur that happens on sprint. It just seems so off in such a good looking game. Disabling it would have been nice, though I couldn’t seem to find that option anywhere in the menus.

The Warzones, too, can be tweaked to players’ likings. That means that you can likely hop in and try something new and different every time you fire this puppy up.

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This is Next-Gen?

Killzone has always been a game that champions strong graphics. I’ll argue, however, that the story’s setting never really let Guerilla Games truly flex those muscles.

Grey on brown on black on red doesn’t exactly give an engine a chance to shine to consumers.

Shadow Fall, then, presents a lot of opportunities for better lighting, a fresh color palette and more variety and landscape. By literally splitting the world in two through the plot, Guerilla Games made an obvious break in locale. Good is blue, bright and happy, while bad is red, dark and dreary.

Rinse and repeat.

When it shines, Shadow Fall is brilliant. Big draw distances, tons of objects rendered, gorgeous explosions and solid framerates make this feel like a next-gen game. When the art style and design holds it back, though? The cracks show wildly.

Invisible walls are still a thing. Trust me. I bumped into them constantly. The AI can be really, really dumb, another sign of generations gone by. And the design, like I mentioned in the first section of this review, can be truly confusing.

Graphics aren’t everything. Killzone may be one of the prettiest launch titles we’ve seen so far, and when the art design lets it be stunning, it really stuns. But, there are so many aging design problems that crop up again and again throughout that you may be slapped out of your next-gen experience a little too much for your liking.

Buy/wait

 “In the current crop of offerings on the PlayStation 4, Killzone: Shadow Fall is one of your best choices.”

Killzone: Shadow Fall won’t be the best shooter you’ve ever played. Confusing AI, awkward level design and an average plot line keep it from being truly engrossing.

It can be fun, though. As a massive launch title, it really doesn’t get too much better than Killzone: Shadow Fall. Guerilla Games knows how to make a competent shooter, and their multiplayer chops are still up to snuff.

Don’t expect this game to knock your socks off. I’m glad I played Killzone: Shadow Fall. It’s a good preview of what’s to come from games on the PlayStation 4 in terms of looks, boot up speed (it’s so lovingly fast) and potential social elements.

It’s an above average game. In the current crop of offerings on the PlayStation 4, Killzone: Shadow Fall is one of your best choices.

We purchased Killzone: Shadow Fall with company funds. We played through the campaign and multiplayer modes before drafting this review.


Joey Davidson

Joey Davidson leads the gaming department here on TechnoBuffalo. He's been covering games online for more than 10 years, and he's a lover of all...

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